In the past, I have written articles about how to get the ADA to work. Often, it feels like the only way to enforce the law is to file a lawsuit or embark on a lengthy complaint process with the Department of Justice.
But I did something in under ten minutes that anyone with a disability can do to make our communities more accessible.
I tried to use a rest room at my local Ruby Tuesday and found the stall was not large enough to close the door. I asked a waitress if there was another accessible bathroom and she said no. I said “Well, that’s illegal and you should let your manager know.”
I could have asked to speak to the manager myself, but I wanted to leave- I had to pee! So I ended up sending an email to customer service. Not all restaurants will have this option; you may have to make a phone call or send snail mail. Here’s how:
1. Whether in person, on the phone or in a letter- address your complaint to management.
2. Identify yourself as a person with a disability. You are legally required to be disabled in order to make a complaint; they are not legally allowed to ask for the specifics.
3. Be polite. Just a suggestion.
4. Explain the situation and use the words: “not ADA compliant” and explain that you’d “rather not have to pursue this matter legally.” Say it with a smile.
5. Leave your name and contact information and let them know you expect to be kept informed about how they plan to fix the problem and when.
I got a call the day after I emailed my complaint. The manager thanked me for bringing it to his attention and claims it will be fixed this week. He’s promised to call again when it’s finished.
Imagine if all of us did this. Small changes add up to make our world bigger. Do you have ten minutes?
***Update: the manager of Ruby Tuesday just called to let me know their restroom is now accessible. ten minutes on my part, a week on theirs. not bad.
Check out this website to find specific ADA guidelines, including exact measurements of wheelchair passage and turning space, the slope of ramps, the ratio of accessible seating at theaters, the width of aisles in retail stores, the required number of accessible rooms based on hotel size, carpet pile thickness, and much more: http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-19575
For more information on the ADA: